Jim Smart
January 1, 2008

Step By Step

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Mufp_0801_bird_12z 1957_ford_thunderbird Thunderbird_badgeMufp_0801_bird_11z 1957_ford_thunderbird Jan_jay_brynerMufp_0801_bird_01z 1957_ford_thunderbird Front_viewMufp_0801_bird_06z 1957_ford_thunderbird SuperchargerMufp_0801_bird_09z 1957_ford_thunderbird DashMufp_0801_bird_10z 1957_ford_thunderbird Unrestored_door_jamb
This is not a restored doorjamb; it's factory original.
Mufp_0801_bird_13z 1957_ford_thunderbird Wheel_badgeMufp_0801_bird_16z 1957_ford_thunderbird Hoodscoop

According to Jan, just three or four Starmist Blue '57 Thunderbirds were built with a McCullough supercharger. What's more, only 197 total Phase II F-birds were ordered and built sporting the McCullough blower. By today's standards, these supercharged T-birds weren't much to write home about in terms of performance and speed. However, what makes these cars unique is rarity. There's nothing quite like the rush of a big finned blower to excite the senses. On a Ford showroom floor or at a Saturday night cruise in 1957, these cars were high-end rides for those with money and status. They were eye-catching chariots for Main Street just about anywhere in the rising post-war years.

We could tell you all about what the Bryners had to do to get this car to show condition, but we'd be lying to you. They bought this car in as-is condition, and aside from the Minter engine rebuild, it was in show condition.

We like the way Ford blended the Thunderbird's dual exhausts into the rear bumper for 1957-virtually invisible, yet visible. The Thunderbird takes its styling cue from the futuristic space age, and Ford did the best job at this. Of all the Detroit automakers, Ford used the most restraint, keeping jet-age/space-age nuances to a minimum-tasteful, elegant. Fin treatment is subtle. Frank Hershey, Ford stylist at the time, can be credited for the Thunderbird's unique styling. It may surprise you to know the Thunderbird was conceived and built using a lot of off-the-shelf parts to keep cost under control. It employs a Ford sedan chassis underneath. Those are big Ford drum brakes behind authentic Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels. A Ford instrument panel was borrowed from the '56 Ford parts bin; ditto for the dashpad. Lots of other shared hardware exists throughout the car.

Ford didn't build the Thunderbird with the notion it would sell a lot of them. This was a high-profit luxury car, to be sure. However, the Thunderbird was conceived to bring buyers into showrooms who would likely buy something more mainstream, like a Victoria sedan with room for a family. In short, it was dreams versus reality-people drawn to the Thunderbird who would buy a station wagon for the wife and kids. Even though Ford intended to make a lot of money on Thunderbird sales, it, too, was faced with reality. The corporation lost money on every two-seat T-bird sold, making it necessary to grow this car to four passengers in 1958 to attract more buyers.

Jan's Starmist Blue Thunderbird hasn't been a reality check for the Bryners, but more a dreamy-eyed experience these folks have waited a lifetime for. Cruising in a rare, classic Thunderbird is surreal for Jan. It's a high without drugs, and an expression of Jay's expression for the woman he married.

The Details
'57 Ford Thunderbird

Owner: Jan & Jay Bryner, Sandy, UT

Engine

  • 312ci Y-block 4V V-8
  • 3.80-inch bore
  • 3.44-inch stroke
  • 300 hp (312hp, Daytona version)
  • 8.5:1 compression
  • ECZ-6090-G heads
  • ECZ-9425-B intake manifold
  • Cast flat-top pistons
  • Holley downdraft four-barrel carburetor
  • McCullough VS-57 supercharger
  • Transmission

  • Borg-Warner three-speed manual
  • Rearend

  • 9-inch
  • 3.89 gears
  • Open differential
  • Exhaust

  • Factory dual exhaust
  • Suspension

  • Front: Unequal-length control arms, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers
  • Rear: Semi-elliptical leaf spring, telescopic shock absorbers
  • Brakes

  • Front: Manual drum
  • Rear: Manual drum
  • Wheels

  • Front: Kelsey-Hayes wire wheel, 14x5-1/2 inches
  • Rear: Kelsey-Hayes wire wheel, 14x5-1/2 inches
  • Tires

  • Front: Coker Classic Radial, P205/75R14
  • Rear: Coker Classic Radial, P205/75R14
  • Interior

  • Original two-tone blue vinyl
  • Custom Autosound AM/FM cassette stereo system, trunk-mounted CD changer
  • seatbelts added for passenger safety
  • Exterior

  • Original Starmist Blue enamel applied by Ford at the Dearborn, Michigan, assembly plant